Blog / 2020 / Chasing Joy

May 9, 2020

This will probably not come as a surprise to you, but I don’t make a lot of money being an artist. I’m okay with it because, for my entire career, I’ve made something waaaaayyyyyyyyy more important. I have made joy.

And the fact that I have spent my days producing a unique blend of delight, pleasure, and happiness is not only what keeps me arting even though the pay isn’t great and the job doesn’t come with insurance. Making joy is actually what keeps me wanting to live.

In other words, joy is a Really Big Deal chez Gwenn, but, since the pandemic descended upon us, the joy factory that lives in me has been summarily retooled. I now manufacture satisfaction instead.

tarantula painting process

This particular image contains oodles of it. I’m proud of painting an animal that scares me and pleased with the way I used the webbing as a design element in the piece. Under COVID-19, these accomplishments are more than I manage most days in my studio, so I should be completely satisfied with my satisfaction.

But I’m not. I still want joy.

I know I will find it again one day. Despite all the dying, from the virus itself as well as from the incompetence and selfishness of 45 and his death cult. Despite all the harm that Trump and his cohort of criminals have perpetrated in the last four years. Despite all the suffering that existed before these chuckleheads came to power.

Joy-making is always obscene on some level, given all the pain that surrounds us. But, since that’s true, then the opposite is too: joy is the only answer. Satisfaction will keep me holding on until I can make my way to joy again.

greenbottle blue tarantula in a web, arachnid art
Gwenn Seemel
T Is for Tarantula
acrylic on panel
14 x 14 inches

The first names embedded in this image are Tahnya, Tamara, Taous, Tarana, Taryn, Tasha, Tayva, Ted, Teela, Teja, Tenya, Tess, Texas, Theresa, Thinh, Tiffany, Timothée, TJ, Tom, Tonisha, Tony, Torch, Trevor, Trey, Tristan, and Tyler.

The original tarantula painting is for sale for $1500 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. If you want prints or other pretty items with this image, check out my Redbubble shop. The completed alphabet book that it is a part of will be available later this year.

arachnid painting
detail of T Is for Tarantula

Here’s what I’ve been reading since my last ABC book update:

  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

    I happened upon Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God right when it came out a few years ago, and I’ve meant to read more of her stuff since then. The Last Report held my attention but didn’t capture my imagination like Future Home.

  • Initiated by Amanda Yates Garcia

    I didn’t end up finishing this book. I’m intrigued by Wicca and by the role it has played in shaping feminism, but this memoir goes beyond my interest. Alex Mar’s Witches of America was more suited to me as someone who is intellectually fascinated by Wicca, but emotionally detached from it.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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